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Collecting Demographic Data: Pilot Survey 

January 22, 2019
Des piétons traversent la rue.

Over the past few years, the Canada Council for the Arts and the arts community have engaged in dialogue about how to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in multiple ways: who works in the arts, who is represented in our theatres, galleries and on screens, and who attends and participates in the arts. These are all complex and multifaceted questions that require different approaches and strategies.

In order to deepen understanding on these topics, in June 2018, the Canada Council commissioned Forum Research and Hill Strategies Research to develop and pilot a voluntary online survey to track the demographic makeup of the workforce and boards of organizations that receive core operational funding through the Engage and Sustain program.

We are doing this to further the Council’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as outlined in our Strategic Plan and to support the criteria from the Engage and Sustain program which asks organizations how they reflect the diversity of their communities. Our aim is to increase our understanding, at an aggregate level, of who works in the organizations that we fund. Another key objective is to provide organizations with data on their own workforces which they can analyze within their specific contexts (e.g. region, language, field of practice) in order to determine what they may wish to address over time. The survey relates to the Engage and Sustain program outcomes.

A sample of roughly 25 organizations, who receive funding through the Artistic Institutions component, were solicited. Organizations included in the pilot represent the breadth of organizations funded through the Artistic Institutions component taking into consideration field of practice, region, official language minority status, size, etc. The survey will not be used in the application process or in the assessment of Artistic Institutions this year.

A diverse group of stakeholders from the arts sector were consulted during the development of the questionnaire as part of the process. The survey was launched on January 22 and closed on March 5, 2019.


The objectives of the pilot survey are:

  • That the Council obtains greater understanding of how to collect workforce demographic data in order to implement ongoing data collection for performance measurement; and,
  • That the arts community is engaged in the development of a measurement tool that supports and empowers them in their efforts to build diversity in their workforces.


The bilingual pilot survey includes questions on gender, age, cultural diversity, Indigenous heritage, official language minority status, disability and opinions on the arts sector in general as well as arts organizations. It was sent directly to employees and Board members of the organizations to be filled out on a voluntary basis. Any data collected will be used in a manner that preserves and protects survey respondent confidentiality and personal information. For respondent confidentiality purposes, the Canada Council will not publish aggregate data that could result in the disclosure of confidential personal information. For more information on the survey please consult our FAQ document.

Impact and Outcomes

A summary of the pilot project and its findings will be made available on the Canada Council website in 2019. Please stay tuned.

For more information please send us an email at research@canadacouncil.ca.